News

Poulsbo calls up Annexation Task Force

t New team in the

works to educate public and clarify process.

POULSBO — Poulsbo’s Urban Growth Area (UGA) residents have asked that their voices be heard, and the city is listening.

After voting down two annexation proposals last week, Poulsbo council members in the Public Works committee discussed Wednesday afternoon a new Annexation Task Force, which will, among other things, have two public involvement meetings so interested residents can become a part of the process.

The city is also currently soliciting written questions regarding the topic.

Council members said they’ve been receiving all kinds of questions regarding annexation, ranging from septic systems and remodeling to horse ownership and chicken road right-of-way.

Council Member Dale Rudolph, Public Works committee chair, said the task force is not a working group, but is instead “unlike anything we’ve ever done before.” The process will give the public a chance to truly be involved, and have more of an outlet than just a three-minute testimony.

The task force action plan will be up for council approval April 16.

“We — the council, mayor and staff — have concluded that we need to do a little more preparation before we do any more annexations,” Rudolph said, adding the task force process is designed to “equip a potential petitioner with a starting point to go off and know where the city’s going to stand in the end.”

Rudolph said the goal isn’t to make everyone agree with one side or the other, but to enable all — including council members — to develop informed opinions.

The plan describes the task force’s purpose, which is to address clarification and communication of infrastructure issues, orderly annexation, communication of environmental resource protection policies, clarification of annexation versus development issues, and public education and outreach approaches. To do this, Mayor Kathryn Quade will appoint two council members, one planning commissioner and six UGA residents, property owners and/or developers. Three public appointees will be proponents of annexation and three will be opponents. These UGA representatives will be pulled from the north, central and south neighborhoods in the area between Viking Avenue, Finn Hill Road, State Route 3 and the southern UGA limits. Applications are now being accepted.

The city will also release an “Annexation Fact and Myth” pamphlet, which will clarify taxation, utility connection and other related issues. Both the pamphlet and the task force will be implemented parallel to the completion of the city’s functional planning. The functional plans, which will become a part of the final comprehensive plan, are expected to be in final draft form in three months, said Public Works Director Jeff Bauman. The transportation plan is already complete and the sewer final draft plan is currently being reviewed by the Kitsap Public Utilities District. The water final draft plan is awaiting approval from the Department of Ecology and the storm water plan is being updated from its draft form.

Bauman said functional plans offer an assessment of the services that currently exist and provide a conceptual evaluation of what will be needed for future growth.

Steven Johnson, owner of 2.5 acres in the proposed Tibbits annexation, who last week called for the council to find a way to include UGA citizens, said he felt the task force process would address that concern.

“I just want to have a say in what’s going on in the UGA,” he said. “It’s a right step.”

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